Exits: Hellman Sees Speedy Return on Formula One –

Turning around its February investment with blinding speed, Hellman & Friedman in March reportedly agreed to sell its 37.5% stake in the holding company of London-based Formula One Holdings, the largest motor racing championship in the world, for $1.42 billion. EM.TV Merchandising AG plans to buy the stake, along with a 12.5% stake owned by Morgan Grenfell Private Equity, for $1.9 billion, according to the financial press.

San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman purchased its stake in SLEC Holdings, the parent company, for $712.5 million from its head honcho Bernie Eccelstone, who had been looking to unload a 50.1% stake for several months (BUYOUTS March 6, p. 10).

The Formula One investment was Hellman & Friedman’s largest to date. Through a spokesperson, partners at the firm declined comment, but confirmed the existence of an agreement to sell the stake.

Morgan Grenfell Private Equity bought its 12.5% stake in Formula One from Eccelstone last year for $275 million. Should the deal close, the firm will sell its stake for $472 million.

This transaction follows a spate of activity by Hellman & Friedman, which also made another investment and completed an exit in February. The firm purchased Mitchell International, a software information services provider to the automobile insurance industry, and sold its stake in PowerBar Inc, an energy foods manufacturer.

And most recently, the firm in March sold 3.1 million shares of Digitas, a marketing agency, for proceeds of $68.5 million in connection with the company’s initial public offering.

Hellman & Friedman is approaching a final close of its $2 billion fourth fund, said Mitch Cohen, a partner at the firm, in an earlier interview.